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Any Great Wine Can Go Bad and Every Rose Does Have Its Thorn

Any Great Drink Can Go Bad and Every Rose Does Have Its Thorn

The most obvious similarities in the protagonists, Miss Emily Grierson, of the short story, “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and Montressor, of the short story, “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe are that they deal with their revengeful murders in gruesome fashions to satisfy their own selfish justifications. Both of the stories end with a definite expression that a character has died. However, in "A Rose For Emily", the main character, Emily has just died and another dead body has been discovered as well. This dead body is assumed to be Emily's murder victim, Homer Barron. There are further similarities and differences too, between the main characters of Emily Grierson and of Montressor. These are that Montresor’s motive is related to insult and Miss Emily’s motive is related to love, Montressor has no intention of ever being caught and Emily is not as cautious of hiding any evidence, and both of these characters come from great noble families and they still live in their family estates as adults. My insight about revenge and honor in these two stories are not very clear because of me not knowing the precise reasons of why Montressor or Emily murdered their victims in such macabre ways, but I do know that both of these characters have narcissistic personalities, especially Emily Grierson.

Montresor’s murder motive is related to insult because of the thousand injuries that Fortunato had put on Montressor. He says that he just could not handle it anymore, Fortunato had went too far and Montrssor has endured to much, so now it was time to get revenge without even a warning. Not only are Montresor’s specific reasons for killing Fortunato not mentioned, but Miss Emily’s reasons for killing Homer Barron are never stated either, or even if she did actually murder him by herself. Maybe her servant, Tobe, did under her orders. I wonder this because during Emily's funeral, Tobe walked right through the house and out the back door, never to be seen again. Regardless, the reader is to assume that Homer Barron was died in the bedroom, and that this same bedroom was sealed up forty years ago, before Emily died at the age of seventy-four. The narrator states this clearly when quoting "Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced." (A Rose for Emily p. 55) What left me hanging and confused was when they found a long strand of iron-gray hair after breaking down this door. Regardless of this mystery, I feel that she felt the need to make her "lover" stay with her forever, possibly he threatened to leave her since he had mentioned to others that he preferred men. What I do not understand is why he returned to Emily's home in the first place since his sidewalk construction job in the small town of Jefferson was over with. I think Emily felt that she needed Homer to stay and never abandon her after he returned, and she bought him clothes and jewels to make herself feel like they were 'together forever'. I do believe this made her not only narcissistic, but also mentally incompetent. 

Montressor feels that when he revengefully murders Fortunato, if he gets caught and either gets sent to prison or executed, that it will not be successful revenge at all. He intends on getting away with the murder without ever being suspected or caught, or else he has not gotten the revenge he is after. This is pointed out when Montressor says, "I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong." (The Cask of Amontillado P. 8) Fortunato was chained to a wall alive and encased in a soundproof brick wall underground, but Homer Barron was poisoned by arsenic poison that Emily bought herself, and her victim in the open air of a house where the neighbors could smell death. Therefore, it seems that Montressor meant what he said about not getting caught, but Emily was not cautious in hiding any clues. And, the townspeople had no intention of disturbing her, regardless of the bad smell coming from her property and the numerous complaints. After several complaint's from many people, the judge's final reply to the last complainer was, "DammIt, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?" (A Rose for Emily p. 70) The Board of Aldermen decided to sneak on her property after midnight and sprinkled lime all over her lawn and in all the outbuildings. The horrendous smell of death disappeared soon afterwards. 

Both of these two main characters come from importantly great and noble families. They both continued living on the family estates that were passed down to them over many years. Most of Emily's ancestors are made up of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson, the small town she lives in still. Colonel Sartoris, who I believe was her Great Uncle, used to be the town's mayor. He had announced to everyone in Jefferson that Emily was a hereditary obligation upon the town because her father had loaned money to the town, and so they would repay by exempting her from all taxes while she was alive. Emily never stopped having a large sense of her own importance and a deep need for admiration. The narrator goes on to say, "She [Emily] carried her head high enough--even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness" (A Rose for Emily p. 61) Montressor was also egocentric. He had lived on the big Montressor estate all his life which has several attendants or servants. This was pointed out when he was speaking to Fortunato down in the catacombs, "The Montresors," I replied, "were a great and numerous family." (The Cask of Amontillado p. 42) He was more of a social person compared to Emily, with the fact that he had friends. He even gives a compliment about Fortunato in the story by stating that Fortunato was sincere in the matter of vintage Italian drinks, just like himself. Also, he smiles and shows some decent personality and chit-chat, while Emily never smiles or show expression and she usually just glares or stares. Both Emily and Montresor felt they had been wronged by their victims to the point of wanting to commit murder as revenge. Because of the lack of exact reasons of why these two people committed murder and in such morbid ways, my thoughts about revenge and honor in these two stories are not too clear, but I do know that both of these characters thought way too highly of themselves.

In A Rose for Emily, she didn't want to be rejected, and maybe even loved Homer. She wanted him to stay with her permanently in a grotesque way. Montressor had been wronged by Fortunato to the point that he could not endure the agony of his ways any longer. There is an air of mystery that surrounds both of murderers since we do not know precisely what happened to them to make them want to murder. However, they both are both self-centeredness enough to feel that they deserved more honor from the people they killed, and they show no mercy whatsoever. Both deaths were horrific because they involved much agonizing pain and suffering. To put in mildly, both Montresor and Emily have allowed vanity and delusional thoughts to take over their sense of reality, and they get away with premeditated murders. 

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